It’s Friday night at First Ave and you know what that means! WRESTLEPALOOZA!!!!!
This was supposed to take place in June of last year but the world didn’t think we were ready for Wrestlepalooza XVIII just yet and tonight, the sold out First Ave Mainroom was ready. We had a whole year and half of pent up energy and tonight we unleashed it all. Not only was the audience excited to be back, the musical guest, burlesque dancers and wrestlers were excited to be back. I’m confident that everyone had an ear to ear grin on their face the entire night.
While trying to set up a game plan on how I was wanting to cover this night, I made the decision to switch it up from my normal set up of just hanging around ringside while photographing. I decided it would be better to hang out in the back for this show so I can be socially distanced enough to where I would feel comfortable about myself and comfortable enough for everyone around me. There were pros and cons of this tactic. One con would be I wouldn’t be able to grab those super rad close up gritty photos but on the plus side of things, I wouldn’t be in the way of other audience members and possible making them feel uncomfortable. So the idea of lingering in the back was going to be my big game plan.
After people started filling in the main-room, the lights go dark. The screen shows a very heartfelt tribute video package to a local wrestler Pete Huge who unfortunately passed away this year. It was touching and sad and it was nice to see the love the crowd gave him.
After the video package we get a huge message on the screen that says “WELCOME BACK”!!! The crowd erupts. F1RST Wrestling is back!!!
One of the biggest mysteries of the night was WHO WAS GOING TO SHOW UP!!?? Who was the musical guest? Who were the burlesque dancers? Well, we were in for a treat.
The first person we see was the host John Maddening and the crowd welcomed him to the loudest round of BOOs I’ve ever heard in First Ave. It was deafening and all in good fun.
The first match saw the return of a F1RST Wrestling alumni, Daunte Martin. He grew up in the ring up here in Minneapolis before he headed to the big time at AEW. He has become quite the star over there and it is so deserving. Daunte, along with his brother Darius, who goes by Air Wolf are Top Flight in AEW and as the name hints at, they fly all over the ring demonstrating high risk moves that defy logic and gravity. This match was just that. High flying and fast moves.
After the exciting match it was time for the first burlesque show. I think it was a Pee Wee Herman theme? I’m not sure but the crowd ate it up!
Through out the night, all the matches were fast high energy slobber knockers up until the 4th match when the super bad evil Darin Corbin came out to a sea of boos. He didn’t mind them and actually encouraged the crowd. His opponent was the first really big surprise of the night. DANHAUSEN! I’m not really sure what Danhausen is. A vampire? A ghoul? Whatever this wrestler is, he is entertaining. Corbin eventually got the win and then slithered away.
Time for the secret musical performance. I was excited since I can trust F1RST Wrestling to bring the the raddest musicians. We do have the same taste in music after all so it was no surprise that the musical guest was Brenden Kelly. You might know him from such bands as The Lawrence Arms, The Falcon and Brenden Kelly and the Wandering Birds. I was excited but somehow the majority of the crowd didn’t know who he was. They were confused and they weren’t really digging him. There were pockets of fans scattered out but it seems that most wrestling fans doesn’t like a Chicago legend with a very sarcastic tongue. He muscled through though. Some enjoyed him and that’s all that matters I guess.
We get more matches and one that involved a cowboy, a cop and a frog. Yup. A frog. An Atomic Super Thunder Frog to be exact. Long time wrestling fans knows of this mystical beast of a frog and new fans will never forget him as we all were chanting “RIBBIT RIBBIT RIBBIT”! Seems silly to outsiders but if you’re in the know, well, then ya know.
We get our final dancer of the night. The always entertaining and seductive Sweat Pea. I have seen her perform many times and with many characters and tonight was just as amazing as the others. Since it is the beginning of Halloween season, she had an Elvira themed routine. The crowd lost their minds! I don’t know how she is going to top this performance.
John Maddening comes back out to announce the final match of the evening. The lights go out. “We Are All We Have” from The Casualties blasts over the speakers and out comes The Anarchist Arik Cannon. It has been over 2 years or so since we got to see him wrestle inside First Ave and we were all more than excited to see him. As for his mystery opponent, well that was another surprise and what a surprise it was! ARIYA DAIVARI!! Long time Minnesotans know Daivari from when he was cutting his teeth up here. All of his hard work paid off for him and he got the call to the big leagues of WWE. He became a huge star and we couldn’t have been more proud of him.
Him and Arik had a good ol’ fashion slugfest of a fight. Hard hitting, high flying and full of mutual respect for each other. That is until Arik was getting the upper hand on Daivari. Near the end of the match, the ref gets knocked down and Daivari knocks down Arik. Daivari proceeds to leave the ring and comes back with an illegal folding chair. He waits for a second until Arik stands up and Arik looks confused and just as the ref stands up, Daivari tossed the chair to Arik and then Daivari proceeds to fall down and fakes getting hit with the chair. All the ref seen was Arik with a chair and Daivari falling to the mat in pain. The ref begins to yell at Arik for hitting him with the chair. The ref is angry. Arik pleads with the ref that he is innocent and the ref has to ask the crowd what happened. The crowd vouches for Arik but it’s too late, Daivari is back up and knocks Arik down and then Daivari grabs his rug and climbs the ropes and and delivers his finishing move and the ref counts 1, 2, 3. Daivari wins the match.
After getting bested by Daivari, Arik grabs the mic and proceeds to tell the crowd how proud he is of Daivari and his success in the WWE. The crowd was also proud and let Daivari know it. Daivari tells the crowd he is home now. While Daivari was thanking the crowd, a certain music hit and out walks Wrestlepalooza Champion Air Wolf also known as Darius Martin of the before mentioned AEW superstar tag team Top Flight. Air Wolf tells Daivari that this is his home and he is the champion and the two gave each other a lengthy stare down. If I was a betting man, I’d wager that the next Wrestlepalooza, it will be Air Wolf vs Ariya Daivari for the Wrestlepalooza Championship and you can bet that I will be their ringside for that match.
Well, the show was over but not before we get to see John Maddening one last time. He thanks the crowd for coming and the crowd boos him. He tells the crowd the next time F1RST Wrestling has a show and the crowd boos him. It was all in good fun but maybe one day the crowd will cheer him.
Wrestlepalooza is one of the most exciting nights of the year at First Ave and we all look forward to the next one.
F1RST WRESTLING will be back in the Mainroom on November 14th with their show “UNLEASHED”. It will be full of amazing matches and surprises. I’d be there if I were you.